God Tells Moses How to Build the Tabernacle
The people of Israel camped before a mountain called Sinai. It was now time for them to have laws so that they could know what was the will of God toward them. Therefore, the Lord told Moses to come up to Mount Sinai and he would give him the laws for the guidance of the people.
The Lord descended upon Mount Sinai and it burned with fire, and the mountain shook and great quantities of smoke ascended to the skies. The Lord then called from the top of Sinai for Moses to come up to the top, and Moses went up and all the people in the plain below prepared themselves to receive the word of the Lord.
On the top of the mount the Lord told Moses to say to the people of Israel that He had delivered them out of the hands of the Egyptians and that He would take care of them if they would obey His commandments. He told Moses to make the people wash their clothes and make themselves clean and not commit any sin for on the third day the Lord was to come again on Mount Sinai. Moses went down the mountain and told the people all the things the Lord had spoken to him.
After Moses had spoken to the people the Lord told him to come up again into the mountain, and He would give him the Ten Commandments written upon tablets of stone. Moses took Joshua with him and went up into the mountain, and a cloud came and covered the mountain for six days. The Lord called to Moses out of the cloud, and Moses went into the cloud and stayed forty days and forty nights. On the plain below the people of Israel saw the cloud and the bright burning light and knew that the glory of the Lord was upon the mountain.
The Lord then spoke to Moses and gave him the Ten Commandments. He also told him that the children of Israel should build a tabernacle, which was to be a place of worship. He told Moses how this tabernacle was to be built and all the things which were to go in. It was to be a very beautiful place of worship, and have many objects of gold and silver and brass in it. There were to be curtains of fine linen richly embroidered, and many altars, for the worship of the people. It was to be made in such a way that it could be taken down and moved as the people journeyed from place to place.
God also told Moses to have an ark made, which was to go in the tabernacle. The ark was a box or chest made of wood and covered with gold inside and out, so that no part of the wood could be seen. Inside the ark Moses was to place the two tables of stone which God was going to give him. The cover on top of the ark was to be made of pure gold with the golden cherubim, or angels upon it, one at either end. These cherubim were to have their wings outspread and were to face each other. The cover of the ark was to be known as the Mercy Seat. Inside the tabernacle there was to be a table made of wood, and covered with gold, and also a golden candlestick which was to hold the candles that gave light in the tabernacle. God also told Moses to make still another altar, out of the wood and covered with gold, which was to be placed in the room with the golden table and the golden candlestick. Upon this altar incense was to be burned. Incense was a kind of gum mixed with spices which when burned sent up sweet smelling smoke. This smoke represented the prayers of the people ascending to heaven.
Around the tabernacle there was to be a wall or fence making a kind of yard or court. In this court there was to be an altar made of wood and covered with brass, and large enough to hold sacrifices of oxen, sheep and goats. This altar was to stand before the door of the tabernacle. Moses was also to make a great basin or laver out of brass, to hold water. It was to stand near the brass altar, in the court outside the tabernacle.
And the Lord set aside Aaron and his four sons to be the priests at the tabernacle. Aaron was to be the high priest and his sons were to be called priests. Aaron was to wear a beautiful garment, with a linen cap for his head, and a plate of gold on which were the words Holiness to the Lord. Next to his skin he was to wear a coat made of fine linen with embroidery on it, which should reach to his feet. Over the linen coat he was to wear a robe of blue, around the lower end of which were to be ornaments like pomegranates and between the pomegranates were to be hung heavy golden bells. Over the robe there was still another robe shorter than the others, made without sleeves and called the ephod.
On his breast Aaron was to have a square piece of cloth with twelve precious stones set in it, and richly embroidered. The stones were to be rubies, and sapphires and diamonds. Aaron's sons were also to have rich dresses but not so fine as the one Aaron was to have.
When the tabernacle had been built and was ready to be used for worship, Moses was to bring Aaron and his sons to the door and there he was to wash them with water. Then he was to put the beautiful garments on them and anoint Aaron's head with oil. In this way the people might know that Aaron and his sons had been set aside or consecrated as priests for the service of the Lord.
After God had told Moses all about this wonderful tabernacle and how it was to be made, he also told him who was to make it. One was named Bezaleel and the other was named Aholiab, both of whom the Lord had taught to work in silver and gold and brass, and to set precious stones. Besides those, there were many others whom the Lord had instructed, so that there was no lack of workmen to make ready this beautiful tabernacle and the altars and to prepare the garments for the priests.
When God gave Moses the two tables of stone, which He had written with His own hand, He told him to go with Joshua down the mountain and return unto the people in the plains below.